So I recently got an e-mail letting me know that Microsoft was closing down Office Live Small Business and offered me a deal instead to switch over to a paid service where a website could be hosted with them (I had forgotten I even had an account there – I had briefly looked at the service when starting my blog and realized that I needed to go for paid hosting instead).
Now this in and of itself is probably not particularly interesting news for us in the internet marketing community. After all, we all know that a serious internet marketer should be looking to do their own hosting rather than relying on a free host like Office Live Small Business, right? That’s true. However, there is a reason you should care anyway. Read on to find out why.
What Was Office Live Small Business Anyway?
For those who were not familiar with it, Office Live Small Business was one of the better options for free website hosting online. Unlike most other options, it didn’t require that you allow banner ads to be pasted all over your website (a small ad at the bottom saying that it was powered by Office Live Small Business was all that distinguished it – from the outside—from a paid site).
You were also able to host an actual domain name there (i.e. you didn’t have to do mysite.live.com. You could do mysite.com and have it point directly to your site there, making it look more professional.
There were however limitations to this which made it unsuitable for many online businesses. Office Live Small Business offered a very limited set of website tools (you couldn’t install WordPress for example) and was really designed to create an “online presence” for tiny businesses which likely wouldn’t have been online anyway (i.e. the local grocery store or the local barber shop).
There Is a Reason This Matters
Now as I said at the outset, in and of itself, this doesn’t really make a whole heck of a lot of difference. Most internet marketers don’t host with free sites anyway and most us know to use a reliable host like DreamHost or HostGator.
However, the reason that I think this is significant for our industry is that it shows a kind of a trend. It shows us that these free sites are slowly disappearing and this can only mean that things will get just a tad harder for the spammers.
Spam? How Did That Enter Into the Equation?
The fact is that spam is never very successful at making money for the people who send it out. If you send out a million spam e-mails, you may get 100 orders for your product from those million spam messages. However, the reason that spam is still such a scourge on the internet is that even that crazy kind of ration still pays when spam is so incredibly cheap and easy to use.
Free Sites Encourage Spammers
The fact is that free sites like those that were offered by Microsoft’s Office Live Small Business program were a magnet for spammers who would throw up junk websites on them and use them for clogging the web with useless crap which made it harder and harder for the rest of us to get our messages out. Now, will Microsoft’s switching to a paid site in and of itself make content spam disappear from the web? Not hardly.
However, the trend toward the free sites being removed in favor of paid sites (Google for example delisted all .co.cc sites because of spam) means that it can only be a good thing (even if it’s got a very tiny impact) for those of us who make a living online and pay for things rather than relying on free junk sites like those Microsoft offered with Office Live Small Business.